Already half a year has past in which CreaTe students have been busy with sketching, programming, fiddling with arduinos, hitting deadlines, making working project prototypes and writing pages-long reports. University life can be hard – but we here at Proto.ink are going to make your life easier! We set out to ask students their tips on surviving CreaTe. Enyo Ahovi, Robin Fabianek, Laura Kester and Abel Gerritse were kind enough to provide us with their advices.
CreaTe students are supposed to be ‘T-shaped professionals’. And while passing your subjects will ensure that you have a little bit of knowledge in every field, every CreaTe student is unique and needs to find their area of interest to specialize in. As Abel put it: ‘You need to find what you are good at and become awesome at it. The study will help you doing that but if you just follow every courses’ minimal requirements you will not have any valuable skill at the end. It doesn’t have to be a specific technical thing, it can be management, or public relations for example. However, Do what you want to do, don’t bother about what you should do. Think about who you want to be, figure out what makes you happy and focus on that. The university is made to explore. (Don’t be stupid either, but keep in mind that you should not force yourself too bad). ‘ Robin had similar advice: ‘Really put your attention on the topics you like, and pass the subjects you aren’t that interested in. But don’t put the whole focus on these. Focus on that what you want to become in the future because in the end your whole education is about you and you developing yourself. It’s not about getting in everything a ten or a nine. If you dislike a subject it’s enough to get a six or a seven – you will pass.’
One constant in CreaTe life will be project work: one every module! It is therefore obvious that being able to navigate these is a key cornerstone in surviving CreaTe. One thing you should focus on is making sure you have a good group. Laura advices to ‘avoid the group where all the leftovers are. Be active and try to form a group before the start of the module!’ And Abel advises that ‘If there are difficulties in a project, you need to communicate about it. It is ok not to be able to do something but you should let you team know. The faster you communicate about it, the easier it will be to resolve.’
Clashes with teachers can be hard to avoid. Complaining about the unfairness of tests, deadlines or assignments is a common conversation topic. Abel advises to always consider the opposite viewpoint before you accuse a teacher of unfairness: ‘ If something goes wrong, think about it and do not just complain. There is a chance to fix a lot of things with CreaTe staff but, before raging, ask yourself why a course or a test was done the way it was done. This will help you getting a constructive point of view.’ Enyo also asks students to be considerate. ‘A positive attitude is always recommended. They have pretty tight schedules, too. If a teacher seems not to like you for some unexplained reason, just treat them with respect, show up to their lectures and tutorials and try to show your involvement.’
Once piece of advice given by Robin is that it can be very helpful to talk to older students who have already passed the subject. ‘ You can get a lot of insight from them. In the first year you get a lot of stuff you probably already had in high school So if you know this stuff you don’t need to attend the lectures. But first make sure you actually know all the material and then decide to go there or not. Because if you’re just not going to all lectures and then in the end find out you don’t understand anything – that’s not good. In case you have doubts just go to the first few lectures and see what they are like.’
And where would you find all these older students? Well, the ideal place would be Protopolis! Laura is a former board member, and as a result has many tips and tricks for getting the best out of Protopolis: ‘There is often free food in Protopolis after the Creec evaluation and after free lunches. The sauces cabinet in Protopolis also hides free stuff to put on your bread if you forget your lunch or don’t have money ( peanut butter, hagelslag, …) And there is a mountain of electronics behind the stairs in SmartXP which are free to use for any projects.’
Alfred is someone who seems to approach a god-like status in CreaTe. And according to our interviewees this isn’t without reason! One of the advices Abel gives is ‘become best friends with Alfred: just say hi and ask questions about your project. He is busy but he is here to help you with stuff so don’t hesitate.’ Laura also gave the same advice: ‘In SmartXP Alfred is a god, befriend him and it will pay off. He can fix all sort of technical problems, help with your project logistics and also generate crazy good solutions. PS: he loves coffee and stroopwafels’
So there you have it! A helpful selection of useful tips and tricks to survive this crazy study of ours. But if you think we missed anything don’t hesitate and leave your tip in the comments!